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Cablegate: A Day in the Life of a New Slm Fighter

VZCZCXRO9140
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1545/01 2940518
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200518Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2110
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001545

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A NEW SLM FIGHTER

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On October 16, a new fighter for the Sudan
Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM) described his daily
life in the field to poloff. The contact described dire conditions
for SLM/MM troops, where fighters are expected to buy their own
uniforms (often from UNAMID troops,) many do not have firearms
allocated to them, and the troops' two-meal diet is almost always
the same. Despite the austere environment, this fighter stated that
he appreciates SLM/MM's military training, the simple and routine
lifestyle, and the "importance of our work, as it looks like our
movement may soon have to return to the fight." END SUMMARY

FROM THE CEASE FIRE COMMISSION TO THE FIELD
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) On October 16, poloff met former ceasefire commission
(CFC) representative for SLM/MM, Adam Ali Ware. Although a longtime
SLM/MM member with good English skills and political aptitude, Ware
was assigned by SLM leadership to serve on the CFC and work with
AMIS and the international community. Through his work on the CFC,
Ware became a regular contact for U.S. Embassy Khartoum.
Approximately three months ago, Ware reported that Minnawi decided
that all of SLM/MM's 87 former CFC representatives should return to
the field for integration into SLM's force. Ware reported that
approximately 65 of the former CFC members have accepted this call,
and already returned to the field. Ware traveled to El-Fasher with
his unit the week of October 19 to help provide protection to Minni
Minnawi during his transit from El-Fasher to Khartoum.

EQUIPPING HIMSELF
- - - - - - - - -
3. (SBU) After receiving orders to go to the field, Ware left his
wife and eighteen-month old son in El-Fasher, taking approximately
$100 USD with him of his own money. Upon arrival outside of Dar Es
Salaam in North Darfur at an SLM/MM base "of hundreds of fighters,"
Ware bought a uniform for approximately $35 USD from a fellow
fighter who purchased the uniform from a UNAMID soldier from
Cameroon. Ware completed his uniform with pair of brown "desert
boots," a combat knife ("not a good one like you issue to your
marines, but a cheap Chinese one,") and a string of leather amulets
worn around his arm. Ware stated that almost all of the SLM/MM
fighters purchased their own uniforms from various sources. Ware
stated that he was not issued his own firearm, as "the Movement does
not have enough resources to give a weapon to each soldier, but if
there is fighting I will be immediately issued one." Ware stated
that he regrets selling a handgun he owned years ago, especially as
the majority of troops are armed in the camps, many of them bringing
their personal weapons with them from home. For the visit to
El-Fasher, Ware stated that he had to convince a fellow soldier
staying behind to loan him his scarf, "as that is a key part of
SLM's uniform." Although he does not have a thuraya satellite
phone, Ware is able to pick up cellular reception outside of Dar Es
Salaam, "something I use very sparingly now due to financial
constraints."

DAILY ROUTINE
- - - - - - -
4. (SBU) Ware stated that each day begins with morning exercise.
There is also a daily "morning forum" where the fighters discuss
military, historical, and political issues ("ranging from the DPA to
the problems of Sudan as whole.") The fighters then have time for
reading the Qur'an and performing religious duties. At
approximately 10 or 11 o'clock, the SLM/MM fighters eat their first
meal of the day consisting of a porridge made of sorghum or a dried
okra soup. The soldiers have a rotating schedule for cooking the
meals. Following the morning meal, the fighters have time for
cleaning, relaxing, and resting during the hot midday. In the late
afternoon, the fighters return to military training, communication
with SLM leadership, and necessary logistical and operational
duties. At sundown, SLM fighters pray, prepare for the night, and
begin cooking the evening meal typically eaten between 20:00 and
21:00. The evening meal is similar to breakfast, though
intermittently meat is consumed. The SLM/MM fighters in this base
then set up their sleeping areas of "just blankets in the sand." On
the rare occasion when there is rain at night, SLM fighters set up
plastic tarps for basic shelter. "In my three months there, I
haven't had to use the plastic sheeting once and so I've been
sleeping underneath the stars every night," recalled Ware.

A SIMPLE LIFE WITHOUT MONEY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (SBU) Ware stated that since moving to the field he has not
received any salary or money from SLM. "The only thing I take from
SLM is food and this is fine with me, as I don't have any need money
here," stated Ware. He said that some fighters who smoke cigarettes
or drink alcohol ("as soldiers will always drink") are more affected
by this lack of income. When asked about his young child and wife

KHARTOUM 00001545 002 OF 002


in El-Fasher, Ware stated that their needs are limited, that he left
them some money upon his departure, and that they receive support
from other relatives. Ware added that the separation from his
family has not been as difficult as he expected and laughed when
recalling that his young son did not recognize him in his uniform
and battle scarf. Ware stated that he has enjoyed his time in the
field, especially the camaraderie of fellow soldiers, the steady
daily routine, and the time to read many books and documents (e.g.
the Darfur Peace agreement, linguistic textbooks, and books on U.S.
politics provided by previous U.S. field officers.)

WEAPONS TRAINING
- - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) Since arriving in the field, Ware stated that he has
received training in the following weapons: an SPG-9 (Russian 73
millimeter caliber recoilless gun,) a RPG-7 (shoulder-launched,
anti-tank rocket propelled grenade weapon) and various mortars. "As
I am a Darfuri, and everyone from Darfur knows how to use an AK-47,
I did not need specific training for that," noted Ware. Ware stated
that he enjoyed the weapons training and that he feels confident
that, if necessary, he will be able to employ his new skills.

RELATIONSHIP WITH LOCAL COMMUNITY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) Ware stated that he has had limited interaction with the
civilian population in Dar Es Salaam "as we are located in the
valley outside of town." Ware recalled that the area, a stronghold
for SLM/MM, has been neglected by the central government because of
SLM/MM's influence. "There is no electricity, no running water, and
no hospital in the area because the government considers this to be
our area and responsibility," said Ware.

ASSESSMENT OF RECENT AGREEMENTS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8. (SBU) Ware was not optimistic about the September 19 El Fasher
agreement between VP Taha and Minnawi, nor the October 14 Security
agreement signed between the NCP and SLM/MM. With respect to the
latter, Ware stated that "I wish that the former CFC representatives
would have been consulted, as there are elements [in this security
agreement] that should have been clearer and other pieces that
should have been added." For example, Ware stated that key terms
such as "janjaweed" should have been redefined, as the DPA's
reference to janjaweed on horseback and camel, "is restricted to its
definition in the DPA and this is largely irrelevant as most of the
janjaweed have been formalized into government security structures
such as the Central Reserve Police and Border Intelligence Forces."
Ware added that the security agreement should also allow for
amendment when both parties agree. Ware added that he had not had
the opportunity to meet Minnawi during his brief stay in El-Fasher
to discuss these and other issues, and asked poloff about Minnawi's
immediate plans.

"SLM STRONG AND READY TO FIGHT"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9. (SBU) Ware rejected the perception that SLM/MM forces have
significantly weakened since the signing of the DPA in 2006. Ware
did acknowledge that SLM/MM's former Chief of Staff Arko Suliman has
broken away from the movement and attempted to recruit many fighters
(including Ware's former CFC colleagues,) "but it is not true that
Minnawi has lost that many fighters." Ware stated that Minnawi's
improved relationship with non-signatories rebels will become
increasingly important in the coming months. He added that SLM/MM's
field commanders are "ready to fight" and that many soldiers "would
prefer to fight than to continue to wait for the DPA to be
implemented."

COMMENT
- - - -
10. (SBU) Despite Ware's denial, Minnawi's order to convert former
CFC representatives into soldiers signals SLM/MM's need for
fighters. This move also indicates, as Minnawi himself has stated,
that military options are still on the table as SLM waits for
something tangible to come from the latest effort to salvage the
DPA. Ware's inquiry into Minnawi's plans is concerning, and is
indicative of Minnawi's failure to keep the lower ranks of his
movement informed of his plans. The dire conditions described by
Ware are also a concern and help explain (but certainly do not
justify) why many of Minnawi's men have resorted to looting and
banditry to sustain their movement.

FERNANDEZ

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